Once upon a time, a piddly unpublished novelist met Mary DeMuth at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in 2005. I think.
(Gosh, has it really been that long? It’s either 2005 or 2004, before Mary went to France.)
Anyway, Mary and I connected over our obsession—er, love of blogging. And look where we are now! Both published, both at Zondervan, and both still obsessed—er loving the blog thang.
Mary’s blog always makes me think. One of the most significant things I’ve learned from her is how intricately entwined writing is with the writer’s spirituality. Her blog posts often encourage me to dig deeper in my struggles/victories with God and to let that flow out into my writing.
Mary has also taught me the value and power of authenticity. Being Asian—especially female Asian—I was taught to play nice with everyone. Show only the good side. Hide my true feelings, my true personality.
God has slowly worked in me to make me realize that I need to be honest with Him, with other people. And after meeting Mary, I saw that kind of authenticity in the flesh. Her example has been a part of what God has used to shape me over the years.
Because Mary is authentic, she encourages authenticity in me, too.
I have a very difficult time reading about rape. Even typing the word gives me the willies. When Mary’s novel, Watching the Tree Limbs, came out, and once I found out what the story premise was, I had a hard time building up the courage to read it.
In fact, her second novel, Wishing on Dandelions, came out before I could even crack the cover on Tree Limbs. I had just too much anxiety and apprehension over what I knew would be a hard book for me to read.
I finally did read it. It’s a beautifully written book, and Mary tackles the subject with grace and sensitivity. But those first chapters were incredibly difficult for me to get through—I felt like I’d run a race when I finally stuck in a bookmark around the middle of the novel.
It was a hard book for me to read. I told Mary that, and I wrote an honest review of it.
Mary honored my authenticity with all humility and graciousness. I don’t think she even realized how hard it was for me to fight my natural—cultural—inclination to ignore the hard part, to write a review I thought she’d want to read.
Because Mary showed me the example of tackling difficult issues to create a stronger, deeper book, I revised Sushi for One and gave my heroine some of my own fears. It made the novel a slightly darker book, but I think it also gave it complexity.
(Mary is now probably blushing and considering emailing me to tell me to write something else, but I hope she keeps this blog post. 🙂
Anyway, thanks, Mary for letting me guest blog and toot your horn (because you don’t toot it yourself)!